Covid MPI - excuses, excuses from the Morrison government

By Terri Butler MP

05 August 2021

Today what we've heard from the government is excuses and excuses and excuses, attempts to deflect blame and, of course, the Prime Minister's trademark belligerence during question time when he was held up to scrutiny—something he absolutely dislikes, doesn't he? Today, as a nation, we are pretty worried. We've got delta ripping through communities. Just today we've had more announcements of lockdowns in some areas. My heart goes out to those people in Newcastle and around the Hunter who are going into lockdown pretty shortly after we finish this debate today. It's been a very, very difficult time.

It has also been a time where, as I said, the government has been attempting to deflect blame because as the coalition knows the Prime Minister had two jobs this year. He had to get the quarantine system right. He had to get the vaccine rollout right. He has absolutely botched those two jobs. He has comprehensively failed in relation to the vaccination rollout out and the quarantine system. We know that because we are seeing the consequence of that right now. We are seeing the consequences of the breaches of the hotel quarantine and the fact the COVID pandemic is now leaving people in lockdown. We've just had two states come out of lockdown. We've got people across New South Wales and my own state of Queensland, or at least the south-east corner of it, in lockdown. As I said, there are some more people going into lockdown in New South Wales today. We've really seen the consequences of these failures, particularly in relation to hotel quarantine. At the other end of that, if the vaccine rollout had been done properly, then this wouldn't be posing the substantial risk it is now posing to the communities affected.

I was really relieved, frankly, this morning when the deputy premier and the chief health officer of Queensland and the health minister of Queensland gave their press conference and made clear that there was only 16 locally acquired cases today. But, importantly, they were all directly linked to the Indooroopilly outbreak that the member for Ryan spoke about before. The other important thing about today's numbers is that of those people only three had been infectious in the community for one day and one had been infectious in the community for two days, so a very small proportion of those new locally acquired cases were infectious in the community. That's really because of the swift and sensible action of the Queensland Labor government in bringing in the lockdown at very short notice for Queenslanders very recently, on Saturday last weekend.

Queenslanders did what Queenslanders do: they sought to do the right thing. They sought to comply in vast numbers. People stayed home if they could. If they could stay safe at home, they did. And, if they had to go to work, they did that too. What we've also seen are Queenslanders really stepping up to do the testing. A Queensland record for number of tests done in a day was broken yesterday, with more than 52,000 tests done yesterday.

I want to pay tribute to everyone working in pathology, everyone working in the vaccine centres, everyone working in primary health, everyone who's doing everything they can to keep people safe. I also want to mention the pharmacists. It's really delightful to see that the Queensland government is providing doses of AstraZeneca to Queensland pharmacies with deliveries starting today—22,600 doses of AstraZeneca to 113 Queensland pharmacies. People should go to their community pharmacies. I want to thank those community pharmacies and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia for the work that they're doing too.

I also want to say something that I think probably goes without saying, but the fact is that there is a rivalry between Queensland and New South Wales, particularly at Origin time.

Mr Conroy interjecting—

Ms BUTLER: I hear my mate the member for Shortland claiming that's not true, but there is a rivalry from time to time between our two states. But I'm absolutely confident that that rivalry is entirely the last thing on anyone's mind in Queensland. I know that Queenslanders' hearts are going out to our friends in New South Wales. Anyone who has listened to Susan Templeman speak today, to Anne Stanley speak today about the communities they represent really suffering, anyone who's heard any of those New South Wale's MPs speak today knows how devastating it is. Five deaths today—people in their sixties, seventies and eighties. And, of course, there have been a number of deaths across this outbreak, including yesterday one man in his twenties. So our hearts, as Queenslanders, go out to our friends in New South Wales. We want to see all of those people in New South Wales really come through this crisis, and we want to see the Prime Minister stepping up and representing the whole country, doing the right thing, improving the quarantine system and improving the vaccine rollout. The stuff-ups are not going to be fixed by defensiveness and by blame-shifting. They need to be fixed by leadership, and he needs to lead. (Time expired)